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Tropic of Cancer 
Written by: on May 9th, 2012

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Directors: Giampaolo Lomi, Edoardo Mulargia
Writers: Giampaolo Lomi, Edoardo Mulargia, Anthony Steffen
Cast: Anthony Steffen, Anita Strindberg, Gabriele Tinti, Umberto Raho, Stelio Candelli, Gordon Felio, Kathryn Witt, Richard Osborne, Alfio Nicolosi

DVD released: April, 2012
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono German
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 26.99 EUR

Synopsis: A Doctor working in Haiti discovers a serum that gives those how take an insatiable sex drive. Of course once word gets out about his miracle serum a bidding war ensues. Unfortunately there are those who will do anything to get their hands on this serum, including murder.

Tropic of Cancer was co-written and co-directed by Giampaolo Lomi and Edoardo Mulargia (Escape from Hell). Key collaborators on Tropic of Cancer include cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi (The Sweet Body of Deborah, Jungle Holocaust) and composer Piero Umiliani (5 Dolls for a August Moon, Baba Yaga). A few alternate titles that Tropic of Cancer is also known by include Death in Haiti and Inferno unter heisser Sonne.

During the early 1970’s the Italian thriller genre was undeniably at the height of its popularity. The best examples of the genre offered up a satisfying mix of sex, murder and operatic death sequences. And while far too many filmmakers tried to ape the style that made Dario Argento the predominant filmmaker working within this genre. Every now and then there would come along a film that would go slightly against this grain, by  putting a slight spin of this genres tried and true conventions. One such film that falls into this latter category is Tropic of Cancer.

First off the film is set in the exotic of Haiti, while the majority of Italian thrillers were set in Italy. And it is this change of venue that serves  story at hand greatly, since if it were to take place in the more familiar surroundings of Italy. The story would not be as engaging. In fact to put it bluntly, the plot is mess that often throws logic out the window.

This film stylish cinematography further bolster the aforementioned exotic locales. With this film’s standout moment being a hallucinatory sequence in which Anita Strindberg’s (The Case Of The Scorpions Tale, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) character glides down a corridor that is filled while naked men fondle her. Speaking of this film’s leading lady, though her performance is not the type that is going to win any awards. The way in which she is photographed cements her characters place as this film object of desire. Out of all the film’s that I have seen her, this film is without a doubt the most alluring she has ever looked.

Performance wise, there is no one performance that stands out above the rest. With all the performances being not much more than a means to an ends. The cast does however feature a few recognizable Euro-cult faces like Anthony Steffen (Arizona Colt Returns) and Gabriele Tinti (Emanuelle in America).

When it comes to Italian thrillers, one of the main draws are its death sequences. It is in this regard that this film does not come out smelling like roses. Since the majority of the kills lack the flair that one has come to expect from Italian thrillers. Ultimately Tropic of Cancer is a bewitching cocktail of sex, voodoo and murder, that is ripe for rediscovery.

The DVD:

Camera Obscura presents Tropic of Cancer in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 ‘scope’ aspect ratio. This is another strong transfer from Camera Obscura, that boasts nicely saturated colors, healthy looking flesh tones, black levels look very good, details look crisp and there are no problems with compression.

This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in German. Both audio tracks are in good shape, as dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced. Also included with this release are two subtitle options, English and German.

Extras for this release include a German language trailer for the film (2 minutes 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a extensive image gallery with posters, lobby cards, home video box art and promotional materials, two featurettes, the first one titled ‘Shot in Haiti’ (31 minutes 51 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles) and the second featurette titled ‘Bruschini’s Place’ (11 minutes 59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles).

The first featurette is a interview with co-screenwriter / director Giampaolo Lomi, who’s discusses the origins of the project, shooting a film in Haiti, the cast and various other production related topics. The second featurette is a interview with Italian film critic Antonio Bruschini, who provides a well rounded critical overview of the film.

Also included with this release is a DVD booklet that includes a insightful and detailed essay about horror films that prominently feature animals in their plot. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall Tropic of Cancer gets a first rate DVD release from Camera Obscura, highly recommended.

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